Staring excitedly at the wide screen, popcorn in hand, the audience waits for the movie to start. Often, when we decide to watch a film, we expect to fully enjoy it – jam out to the songs, watch the vibrant dances in awe, and laugh uncontrollably at the humor of certain characters. However, there are certain movies that go beyond and leave us thinking. These films usually take great risks in expressing progressive ideas, helping us envision new directions as a society.
Films have an immense impact on society today, and through the Bollywood industry, many social issues regarding the daily lives of oppressed populations come to light. Listed below are a few of the films which have addressed social issues.
Padman – Access to Pads for All Women
Actors: Akshay Kumar & Sonam Kapoor
In this movie, the main character notices his wife using a spoilt rag during her periods. From here, he sets a goal to find a hygienic and cost-effective way for women to deal with their periods. This leads him to create a sanitary pad, and he then takes the mission to make these pads available to rural women around India. Throughout the movie, he is continuously insulted, but he doesn’t let this stop him. Later, he gets recognized worldwide for spreading hygienic practices which helped numerous women throughout India.
Chhapaak – Acid Attacks
Actors: Deepika Padukone & Vikrant Massey
This movie depicts the life of an acid-attack survivor who is compelled to live with the consequences of a crime committed against her. This issue is prominent in today’s society, but rarely discussed. Throughout the film, the aftermath of the acid attack unravels, showing how the case progresses along with how the society around her starts to judge her appearance. This film highlights the heartbreak and self-confidence issues (along with physical pain) these acid-attack survivors endure.
Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan – LGBTQ+ Marriages
Actors: Ayushmann Khurrana, Jitendra Kumar, Neena Gupta & Gajraj Rao
This film addresses a couple of two men who love each other. Throughout the movie, they struggle to gain their families’ acceptance to get married and tolerate hurtful comments made to them. Society looks down upon the LGBTQ+ community, due to the ingrained nature of homophobia over decades in Indian society. Through this movie, the actors and directors shed light on the concept of “love is love” and how LGBTQ+ couples should be supported throughout their journey.
Vicky Donor – Sperm Donor
Actors: Ayushmann Khurrana & Yami Gautam
Before this film, no other movie talked about sperm donations as it was considered a taboo topic within society. In this movie, the main character’s life takes various turns, which leads him to end up at a fertility clinic. Here, an expert convinces him to donate sperm to make money while changing people’s lives (and bringing more into the world). This movie highlights an unspoken topic, clearing up misconceptions regarding infertility and artificial insemination for the audience.
Badhaai Do – LGBTQ+ Marriages/Adoption Rights
Actors: Bhumi Pednekar & Rajkumar Rao
This film revolves around two individuals – one who is lesbian and one who is gay. Despite their identities, their families force them to find someone of the opposite sex to marry. Both of them get married and live together in a platonic relationship. They continue seeing their significant others and hide their identities, hoping to escape societal pressures and fulfill their dream of adopting a baby. This movie touches on the fact that LGBTQ+ couples are unable to adopt children due to their presence as a taboo in society, influencing individuals in our society to ponder and possibly work towards fixing it.
Other movies addressing social issues:
- Bala – Hair Loss
- Luka Chuppi – Live-in Relationships
- Mimi – Surrogate Mothers
- Dear Zindagi – Mental Health Awareness
- Taare Zameen Par – Dyslexia
- Pink – Molestation and Abuse
- Toilet: Ek Prem Katha – Proper Access to Toilets for Women
- Udta Punjab – Substance Abuse
- Thappad – Abuse and Domestic Violence
- Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga – LGBTQ+ Rights
- Kapoor & Sons – Dysfunctional Family and Homosexuality
- My Name is Khan – Autism
- Jayeshbhai Jordaar – Women Equality
Overall, cinema affects the way that society views itself. Through the creation of more societal and thought-provoking films, directors and actors are slowly contributing to mass change within previously held beliefs and allowing standards to be re-thought and reformed.